The Latest: Official: Pope dislikes, accepts tight security

AP News
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Posted: Sep 25, 2015 10:03 PM
The Latest: Official: Pope dislikes, accepts tight security

NEW YORK (AP) — Latest developments in Pope Francis' visit to the United States. All times local:

10 p.m.

The security surrounding Pope Francis on his U.S. trip has been extraordinarily tight, particularly for a pontiff who prizes interacting with everyday people. But the Vatican spokesman says Francis was prepared for the safeguards and accepted them as a necessity of coming to America.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi says it's clear that "the pope, personally, does not like a lot of security around him," but it's up to any host country to determine what it needs to do to keep him safe. And, he says, the pope realized the level of protections would be very high in the U.S.

In one example, Francis' most public appearance in New York — a processional drive through Central Park in his open-sided popemobile — required tickets for the 80,000 people who could line the route. Usually, Francis' popemobile routes are open to the general public, with no security checks.

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9:35 p.m.

The Vatican spokesman says that after a whirlwind day in New York City, Pope Francis is clearly tired and has some aches and pains, since he's been missing out on his physiotherapy while on the road.

Francis suffers from sciatica and has a bad knee and has physiotherapy twice a week. During his 10-day trip, he has needed help getting up and down stairs and on Friday was taken around the U.N. and Madison Square Garden in a golf cart.

The spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the golf cart was planned before the trip, not added at the last moment to spare the pontiff excess walking.

Still, Lombardi said, "we can see that he is a little tired in walking" and climbing stairs. Lombardi says that's normal, in the sense that the 78-year-old pontiff "was not running" when he was elected in 2013 and has regular physiotherapy that can't happen during long trips.

But Lombardi added: "He has still energy for the last two days" of his U.S.-Cuba trip.

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8:40 p.m.

Pope Francis is leaving New York City with some evocative gifts from state and city leaders along with presents from many others.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (KWOH'-moh) presented Francis with a special cross that was cut from steel salvaged from the World Trade Center.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (dih BLAH'-zee-oh) gave the pontiff a New York City municipal ID card. The cards were designed to provide official government-issued photo identification for all city residents, especially those who have difficulty obtaining other forms of identification.

De Blasio says the cards are a "true symbol" of Francis' message about protecting the most vulnerable.

Francis now joins more than 540,000 people who have the cards.

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7:35 p.m.

With a Mass for 18,000 people in a New York City arena, Pope Francis has wrapped up a day that took him from the global spotlight of the United Nations to a classroom where he got impromptu coaching from a fourth-grader on using a touch screen.

He concluded the service with the customary "go in peace and serve the Lord" and added, "Please, I ask you, don't forget to pray for me."

During a visit that started Thursday, he attended evening prayers at St. Patrick's Cathedral, addressed the U.N. General Assembly and attended an interfaith service at the Sept. 11 museum at ground zero.

He also visited a school set amid public housing in East Harlem, took a processional drive through Central Park and, finally, presided over Mass at Madison Square Garden.

He leaves for Philadelphia on Saturday morning.

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6:35 p.m.

Pope Francis is praising big cities for their diversity and culture but is warning that they can also make their people feel they don't belong, shunning them and treating them like second-class citizens.

During a Mass at Madison Square Garden, Francis emphasized a point he has made throughout his U.S. trip: the need to welcome foreigners and marginalized people.

In his homily he also cited "children who go without schooling, those deprived without medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly."

He says God "frees us from anonymity, from a life of emptiness and selfishness." He also says, "God is living in our cities," and so is the church.

The Mass for 18,000 people is the final event on his New York City trip. He leaves for Philadelphia on Saturday morning.

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6:10 p.m.

Pope Francis has begun celebrating Mass for 18,000 people at the Madison Square Garden arena, the final event on his New York City trip.

Before the service began, Francis made a lap of the arena floor in a golf cart, getting huge cheers.

He waved, smiled and accepted some flowers and other gifts. On a second lap that took him down the middle aisle, he stopped at one point, apparently to bless some children.

About 200 deacons and 150 volunteers are set to assist him in giving Holy Communion.

By his preference, Francis will sit in a simple oak chair built by day laborers working for a charity, rather than by expert craftsmen.

He leaves for Philadelphia on Saturday morning.

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6 p.m.

Heavy security around Pope Francis' visit to the United States meant those attending his Mass at Madison Square Garden had to get there hours in advance for screening. But they got a start-studded show while they waited.

The Archdiocese of New York put together a faith-focused concert for attendees before the Mass started.

Jennifer Hudson, the Academy Award- and Grammy Award-winning singer, sang "Hallelujah" and drew roars from the crowd.

Gloria Estafan sang "Mas Alla," Harry Connick Jr. sang "How Great Thou Art?" and several Broadway actors performed in the roughly 20,000-seat arena. Martin Sheen hosted.

The show also featured a video appearance by Stephen Colbert, who welcomed to the arena, as he put it, "Catholics and the non-Catholics who arrived really early for a Knicks game."

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5:50 p.m.

Pope Francis is captivating a New York venue that more commonly showcases rock stars and pro athletes than religious leaders.

He is riding around the floor of Madison Square Garden in a golf cart, to gleeful screams from the crowd, before celebrating Mass at the arena.

It can hold around 18,000 people — so many that about 200 deacons and 150 volunteers are set to assist him in giving Holy Communion.

Francis will sit in a simple oak chair built by day laborers working for a charity, rather than by expert craftsmen.

It's his last event in New York City. He leaves for Philadelphia on Saturday morning.

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5:35 p.m.

Pope Francis has greeted tens of thousands of people as he drove through New York City's Central Park, a processional that marked his biggest public event in the city.

An ear-piercing roar rose from the crowd as his open-sided popemobile made its way slowly through the park.

Francis stood and waved to the crowd surging against barricades as the vehicle made its roughly 15-minute trip, flanked by police vehicles and officers on foot. Both sides of the Central Park road became a sea of arms holding up cellphones.

Some 80,000 people received tickets to the processional. It was added to the pope's packed schedule to allow more people to see him, and vice versa.

The pope is now on his way to celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden as he wraps up a day of activities in New York.

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5:15 p.m.

Pope Francis is embarking on the most public part of his New York visit, a processional drive through Central Park.

Some 80,000 people received tickets to see him. The processional was added to the pope's packed schedule to allow more people to see him, and vice versa.

He's set to drive through part of the park in his open-sided Jeep popemobile, which he used in a short motorcade on Fifth Avenue on Thursday night.

Francis is known for his openness to interacting with people, and he sometimes wades into crowds to do so. Security is tight, with ticketholders banned from bringing chairs and other items.

One woman appeared to faint or fall in the crowd about an hour before he arrived. Emergency workers aided her, and she returned to the throng.

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5 p.m.

What's a gift fit for a pope?

At a New York City school where children and immigrants gathered to greet Pope Francis on Friday, the answers included a cross, a book of stories from 1,000 immigrants, a tablecloth embroidered by a group of mothers, a white hard hat and leather tool belt from migrant workers.

And a blue soccer ball.

The ball was from a group of refugee children who had crossed the border unaccompanied by adults.

Eighteen-year-old Ariel Mejia (meh-HEE'-ah), of Honduras, gave Francis the ball, then gave him a demonstration: He headed it and asked the pope what his favorite team was.

"San Lorenzo!" the pope said, referring to his beloved Buenos Aires-based club.

The teen's choice? Real Madrid.

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4:45 p.m.

Pope Francis is recalling the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous words as the pontiff speaks to children in a New York City school where many are poor and minorities.

Francis told the children from Our Lady Queen of Angels School and other Catholic schools that King's dream of equal opportunity was a hope that children like them could get an education.

The pope says "it is beautiful to have dreams" and to be able to fight for them.

It's the second time Francis has mentioned the civil rights leader and Baptist minister during the pope's first visit to the United States. Francis told Congress on Thursday that King's dream "continues to inspire us all."

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4:30 p.m.

Pope Francis got a bit of a tech lesson when he visited a Catholic school in New York City: A fourth-grader showed him how to use a touch screen.

The pontiff was looking at projects that students from various schools had prepared for his visit. One had a touch screen with information about the environment.

As he examined it, Kayla Osborne asked him if he would like to try it.

Smiling, Francis had a go at moving items around on the screen. Kayla took his hand to help him. But the pope — who has said he hasn't watched TV in decades and doesn't know how to use a computer — couldn't quite get the hang of it.

So she did it for him, and then clicked to a screen that said, "We also thank God for the gift of having you as our pope."

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4:10 p.m.

Pope Francis is making one of the most person-to-person appearances of his New York trip at an East Harlem school.

A line of children shrieked and chanted "Holy Father, we love you!" as he made his way along a barricade outside Our Lady of Angels School.

A beaming pope blessed them, shaking hands and posing for a few selfies. Some children embraced him, but a security guard intervened when one girl gave him a big hug.

Later they sang "When the Saints Go Marching In," changing the words to "when the pope goes marching in."

It's his third stop in a day of activities in New York.

Inside, about 150 immigrants and refugees filled the gym to greet him. He then went into a classroom, circulating around tables where grade-schoolers described projects they were working on.

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4 p.m.

Pope Francis is at a New York City school for a visit that reflects some of the priorities of a pontiff known as the "people's pope."

Our Lady Queens of Angels school is set amid public housing in East Harlem, a predominantly Hispanic Upper Manhattan neighborhood.

At the school, he's set to meet children and bless immigrants.

He's treading into an area where the 2007 closing of the parish church spurred protests. It was one of a series of church closings that the Archdiocese of New York said were spurred by dwindling congregations, demographic changes and a scarcity of priests.

The Rev. Manuel Dorantes, an assistant to the Vatican spokesman, says the pope chose to come to the school partly because it represents a mixed Latino-black community. Dorantes says it also "shows that the mission of the church continues at a place even when the church no longer continues."

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2 p.m.

Pope Francis is resting and having lunch in New York City before a busy afternoon that includes a school visit, a trip through Central Park, and Mass at Madison Square Garden.

While in the nation's largest city, the pope is staying at the official residence of the apostolic nuncio and Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations. It's a five-story town house on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

On Friday afternoon, he heads to Our Lady Queen of the Angels school, set amid public housing in the heavily Hispanic neighborhood of East Harlem.

Later, he will greet as many as 80,000 onlookers during a drive through Central Park, en route to Mass for 18,000 at Madison Square Garden.

He heads Philadelphia on Saturday morning, the final stop on his trip to Cuba and the U.S.

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12:45 p.m.

Pope Francis has viewed evocative artifacts of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at ground zero before leaving the museum that memorializes it.

He spoke at an interfaith service, calling for the world to build unity from its differences. It was held in a hall framed partly by an underground flood wall that became an emblem of resilience when it held fast after the attack. Standing nearby was the memento-covered steel column that was the last one removed from the wreckage.

Francis also toured some of the exhibits, including a cross-shaped steel beam found amid the debris.

Francis visited the museum as part of a three-city U.S. tour. He then departed for a break before resuming his day's busy schedule.

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12:20 p.m.

Speaking at the site of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, Pope Francis says the world can build peace from its differences.

Speaking at an interfaith ceremony at the Sept. 11 museum, the pope said there should be opposition to "any attempt to make us all the same." Rather, he encouraged all to "say yes to our differences, accepting reconciliation."

Francis is visiting the museum after a speech at the United Nations. He's on a three-city tour of the U.S.

He says the world must look to its diversity of languages, cultures and religions and throw away "feelings of hate and revenge and rancor."

He says he was moved by visiting the site of the former World Trade Center's twin towers and by meeting relatives of some of the nearly 3,000 victims.

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11:50 a.m.

Pope Francis has said a prayer of remembrance at an interfaith ceremony at the Sept. 11 museum in New York.

He asked God for eternal peace for those killed, as well as healing for the relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the 2001 terror attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania.

And he prayed to God to bring "peace to our violent world" and to "turn to your way of love" those who justify killing in the name of religion.

Francis is visiting the museum after a speech at the United Nations. He's on a three-city tour of the U.S.

Religious leaders from many other faiths also are speaking on the need for peace and giving prayers.

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11:30 a.m.

Pope Francis is inside the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum to deliver remarks to more than 400 representatives from faith groups.

About a dozen religious leaders from the Jewish, Muslim, Greek Orthodox, Hindu and other faiths will sit in chairs behind the pope as he speaks at the interfaith ceremony.

Francis is visiting the museum after a speech at the United Nations. He's on a three-city tour of the U.S.

He will speak near the underground flood wall that separates lower Manhattan from the Hudson River and held fast during the 2001 terrorist attacks. The wall sits just next to what is known as the "Last Column," the final steel beam removed during the recovery after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Eighteen relatives of people who died in the attacks will also hear the pope's remarks.

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11:20 a.m.

As he headed to the Sept. 11 memorial, Pope Francis was seen off from the United Nations by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the General Assembly president.

Security for the pope's U.N. visit was exceedingly tight. Longtime staffers agree it was even tighter than for the annual ministerial meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, which brings at least 120 world leaders to U.N. headquarters

Whole areas of the headquarters were declared off-limits. Long curtains were hung on windows overlooking the East River and First Avenue, apparently to thwart any snipers.

Hundreds of U.N. security officers and New York City police, as well as Secret Service agents, bomb-sniffing dogs and police boats, were on duty.

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11:15 a.m.

Pope Francis is visiting the National Sept. 11 Memorial at ground zero.

To a cheer from the gathered crowd, he walked toward the two massive waterfall pools that mark the footprints of the World Trade Center's twin towers before they were felled by the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Francis visited the site after a speech at the United Nations. He's on a three-city tour of the U.S.

Francis prayed silently and laid a white rose at the edge of one of the pools, inscribed with the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field, as well as in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

He shook hands with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and began speaking with some 18 people from 10 victims' families.

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11:10 a.m.

Pope Francis' call for a world free of nuclear weapons drew applause from across the United Nations General Assembly — including from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Francis made the comments at the U.N. on Friday morning, his first stop in a daylong visit to New York.

Francis praised the recent Iranian nuclear deal in his speech to more than 100 world leaders and diplomats, saying it was proof that political will and patience can bring about fruits.

But Francis lamented that conflicts are raging elsewhere and that Christians and religious minorities, in particular, are being targeted. He called for a "grave summons" for world leaders to reflect on the innocents who are being slaughtered.

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10:30 a.m.

Pope Francis is demanding respect for the sacredness of all life, in a reference to abortion. His comments are sure to please conservatives who have complained that he doesn't speak out enough against abortion.

Francis made the comments at the United Nations on Friday. The Vatican has long objected to U.N. calls for access to contraception and abortion for women.

In a speech to the General Assembly, Francis offered conservatives a lot to cheer: He called for a respect for all life and called for recognition of what he called the "natural difference between man and woman" — a reference to the Vatican's opposition to gender theory.

He denounced what he called "ideological colonization" of the developing world — a reference to how ideas about contraception and gay rights are often imposed on poor nations as a condition for development aid.

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10:25 a.m.

Pope Francis has asserted at the United Nations that the world's poor have a right to education, lodging, labor and land.

In a speech before more than 100 world leaders and diplomats on Friday, Francis is demanding that the poor have immediate access to food and water, work and housing as well as religious freedom.

Francis is speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday during his first full day in New York. It's part of a three-city trip to the U.S.

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10:10 a.m.

Pope Francis has declared that there is a "right of the environment" and that humankind has no authority to abuse or destroy it.

Francis made the assertion in a speech to the United Nations on Friday during his first full day in New York.

Hoping to spur concrete action at upcoming climate change negotiations in Paris, Francis said the world's powerful countries had a "selfish and boundless thirst" for money. He says that has led them to destroy the planet and impoverish the weak and disadvantaged.

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9:50 a.m.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says Pope Francis has made papal history by addressing the largest array of world leaders ever at the United Nations.

The U.N. chief thanked the pope for demonstrating again his "remarkable global stature as a man of faith for all faiths."

The gathering that starts shortly after the pope's speech is bringing a record 154 heads of state or government to the U.N. It's to launch an ambitious set of global development goals.

World leaders and diplomats filled the General Assembly chamber to hear the pope address representatives from its 193-member nations. Joining them were Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates and Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousefzai, the Pakistani education campaigner.

Ban spoke just before the pope. He said the pope's message on climate change is critical as the world's nations approach a pivotal conference to address climate change in Paris in December.

While others are at home in palaces with the famous, the secretary-general said the pope is at home among the poor and forgotten and with young people in selfies.

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9:45 a.m.

Pope Francis has entered the United Nations General Assembly hall to applause.

His stop at the U.N. is part of a three-city trip to the U.S.

He arrived a bit early for his scheduled speech before the international body and stood in a corridor outside, chatting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Then his arrival was announced, and he and Ban walked into the crescent-shaped chamber together.

The pope is sitting in a beige chair with a high back, where world leaders sit before they address the world body.

Among those in the audience is Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousefzai, the Pakistani education campaigner who will be addressing the U.N. summit to adopt new U.N. development goals. It starts shortly after the pope leaves U.N. headquarters.

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9:40 a.m.

Pope Francis has been meeting with the incoming and outgoing presidents of the United Nations General Assembly ahead of his speech to the world body.

Francis' first meeting was with outgoing president Sam Kutesa, who is foreign minister of Uganda. He handed the baton earlier this month to Mogens Lykketoft, a former speaker of Denmark's Parliament.

Francis is at the U.N. for a speech that will bring his message to an international audience.

The president of the General Assembly presides over the 193-member body. The position rotates annually by region, and presidents are chosen by regional groups.

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9:30 a.m.

Pope Francis is being driven to the United Nations General Assembly hall in an electric cart, past several dozen children singing a song and U.N. staffers cheering and shouting.

Sitting next to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, he waved and smiled as someone in the crowd shouted: "Holy Father, holy Father — father to all. Thank you. Thank you."

Francis is at the U.N. for a speech that will bring his message to an international audience.

Earlier, Francis addressed 400 staff members chosen by lottery.

He praised the staff for making possible many of the economic, diplomatic and political initiatives of the United Nations which are so important for meeting the aspirations of the world's people.

He called them "the backbone" of the U.N. and urged them to send his greetings to staffers who lost the lottery.

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9:10 a.m.

Pope Francis is thanking United Nations employees for work he says makes "possible many of the diplomatic, cultural, economic and political initiatives" of the world body.

Speaking to about 400 staffers in the lobby of the U.N.'s New York headquarters, the pope praised the contributions of everyone from officials to cooks, fieldworkers to maintenance workers.

He encouraged them all to "be close to one another, respect one another" and embody the U.N.'s ideals of a united human family working for peace and in peace.

His visit marks the fifth time a pope has been to the United Nations. It's part of his three-city trip to the U.S.

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9 a.m.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed Pope Francis to the United Nations, saying many draw inspiration from his "humility and humanity."

He cites his call for global action on social justice, climate change and quality of life and dignity for all.

He says: "Thank you for your spiritual guidance ... and love for humanity."

The secretary-general and his wife, Yoo Soon-taek, met the pontiff as he arrived at the world body's headquarters in New York just before 8:30 a.m.

While his visit marks the fifth time a pope has been to the United Nations, the Vatican flag was raised for the first time just before his arrival. The General Assembly recently agreed to allow the U.N.'s two observer states, the Holy See and Palestine, to fly their flags alongside those of the 193 member states.

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8:55 a.m.

Pope Francis has signed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's visitors' book as he visits the world body's headquarters.

The pontiff took a white card from his pocket and copied a lengthy message into the thick, bound book in the secretary-general's conference room.

The secretary-general also showed the pontiff a Norman Rockwell image on the wall. It's called "The Golden Rule" and bears the famous words: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

About 400 U.N. staff gathered in the Secretariat lobby to greet him for a "town hall" meeting in the lobby.

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8:30 a.m.

Pope Francis has arrived at the United Nations for a speech that will bring his message to an international audience.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his wife, Yoo Soon-taek, met the pontiff as he arrived at the world body's headquarters in New York.

The Vatican has said Francis is expected to discuss the need for peace, the plight of refugees and the role of poverty and bad government in driving conflict and migration. But inequality, poverty, the environment and religious persecution may also be among the issues he highlights.